TOM BUCKLEY – NZALPA ADVOCATE
During this year’s General Election, we saw Labour propose a range of amendments to industrial relations, intended to improve working conditions and employer-employee relations, and introduce a better level of wages.
They campaigned on changes to the Employment Relations Act (ERA) and their proposals were a welcome relief to the trade unions. For almost a decade, unions have endured amendments to employment legislation by the previous government, which saw the weakening of unions and an erosion of workers’ rights and protections.
In the first few days following the formation of the sixth Labour-led government, new Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern spoke at the biannual New Zealand Council of Trade Unions (NZCTU) Conference.
In her presentation, the Prime Minister outlined the new Government’s desire to have decent employment, and payment for that work, for all New Zealanders. The details of the Government’s plan for industrial relations appear to have survived, in fact even strengthened, by the coalition negotiations.
These changes will initially see the restoration of what has been removed over the last decade which contributed to the erosion of worker rights, such as 90-day trial periods, lack of protection of rest and meal breaks and amendments designed to weaken collective bargaining. After this, reforms will be focused around improving industrial relations, minimum redundancy levels, addressing atypical employment contracts, recognising overtime in legislation, fair pay agreements, and amending the Equal Pay Act.
During this same speech to NZCTU, the Prime Minister talked about high-performance, high-engagement systems for worker participation in decision-making– something NZALPA has first-hand experience of during the past few years with the Air New Zealand group of companies. Air New Zealand was highlighted by the Prime Minister as an example of business and workers successfully working together. This is a template that the Prime Minister has signalled will be used in the public sector and it may well become more popular. This style of industrial relations was also praised by the Minister of Finance when earlier launching his ‘Future of Work’ Report.
Employee and membership organisations like NZALPA operate to protect and further the interests of working aviation professionals and collaborate in the improvement of the profession.
Pilots and air traffic controllers are proud of the work that they do. It doesn’t make sense for employers not to engage this enthusiasm to the benefit of their businesses. In our experience it has become an irrefutable fact – it is those employers who embrace best practice, genuinely engage with workers and share their gains that are often the companies that benefit most.
He aha te mea nui o te ao
What is the most important thing in the world?
He tangata, he tangata, he tangata
It is the people, it is the people, it is the people